Friday, August 17, 2018

"I Want You Back"

Joel 2:13  ...Now return to the Lord Your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil."

I started back at school this week, working as a teacher's aide in a severe special needs class, high school level. Very challenging work, especially for the time of life I am in now. We are kept on our toes. By the end of the day, I am exhausted.

BUT...or should I say AND...

There remains many bits of joy found in these kiddos, their innocence, their beautiful smiles and giggles, their perseverance and humble spirits and acceptance to trust us with their whole day at school, away from parents and other care-givers.

Many are on the autism spectrum which interferes with communication skills. We seek ways to find out their needs as they develop unique ways to express theirs.

Grace, an important part of the curriculum, every day is a new day, a clean slate.

Last year, I developed a pretty special relationship with one of my senior kiddos. A bit attached, I'd just like to say, we bonded. His behavior quite improved, he developed an obsession with volcanoes. (probably watching the one in Hawaii on YouTube)  Every day he wanted to talk about them and read about the lava, so I indulged him a bit. Towards the end of the school year, I brought some real lava rocks from my own collection and gave them to him.

He was intent on leaving them in the hot sun so they could remelt. He wanted to reverse the process.

This year, while still on my campus, he is now in a different classroom, a transitional class.

He is having a difficult time. All week, he bounds off the bus in the morning, spots me, gives one of his famous hugs, towering over me with his 6 feet plus frame,  gets a bit teary-eyed and says..."I want you back!"

All week his new teacher gave him behavior goals. His reward? He could trek across campus and visit me on Friday,  if and only if, he met his goals which included not asking to go visit me every second and getting upset when he was told no.

The time to clean-up and head out for a Friday of the first week of school approached, and my buddy did not show up. I sent a text to one of his teachers.

"What happened?"

"He lost his privilege because of his behavior. He is working for next week now."

Sometimes, we cannot reverse the process. No cure for autism, no leaving rocks in the daylight will turn them back into lava. We take the beauty that became from the process and learn from it, share it--treasure it.  I know this all too well.

Then there are those times when God and life tell you it is time to move on, make new discoveries and experiences...GROW and learn more. When we do that, our obedience to God pleases Him. We are rewarded.

We miss the old, but those memories will always be precious. It is, of course what got us to a place of  success to be able to make a transition.

Then, there are those days, those weeks...sometimes the very moments when we need a do-over. There in lies the GRACE.

There in... the accepting and the learning and relationship--there in,  the trying and the dreaming and the hoping--there in, the undoing and redoing... the try-agains and the frustrations in our humaness, grace pulls us through. We get back on the bus and try again.

God says loud and clear to us..."I WANT YOU BACK!"

And GRACE says, you don't need to wait until next week because I AM (the Lord) ready for you to bound off the salvation bus and receive your hugs right now.

Thank You Lord, it is all about relationship. Only Your Perfect Love can melt away all our imperfections and make us brand new, trusting in each new mountain ahead of us. Thank You that we can come to You with child-like faith and grow through are "behaviors" to see more of You. Thank You that we can come to You, just as messed up as we are and Grace already prepared the way for that special visit. I love my kiddos, they bless me in so many ways. One day, all of us will be made perfect singing and shouting, bounding and flying---with glorious words, Your Grace that brought us back, back Home.

     Call It Grace ~ Unspoken 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Intentionally Finding the Shadows

Psalm 91:4  "He will cover you with His pinions and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark. 

Many of you know I planted a butterfly garden a few years back in my son's memory, but even more so for God's glory and inspiration. I frequently take pictures and post them, capturing the Monarch in his life cycle. The milkweed plant I added to the garden last year draws the butterflies in as they drink from the nectar of the flower and lay their eggs on the leaves. I've watched many caterpillars grow larger in their diligence of eating the leaves in preparation for their next life. Purchasing a butterfly tent, one lucky fellow emerged from his chrysalis inside my home. Though I missed the event, he graced me with the experience of holding him and setting him (or her) free, back into the garden.

So, I thought I'd try it again, and bring a chrysalis inside. This one never emerged. 

That happens. As I've been reading, not all caterpillars make it, get to actually become the Monarch they were meant to be. They didn't consume enough,  get fat enough, have the strength inside the chrysalis to complete the transformation. They just were not equipped for the change about to come. 

Oh, how I can relate to that scenario...

With all the numerous Monarchs gracing my yard at any given moment, one would think I have a ton of caterpillars as well. I watch for them, but those too, fight to survive. Wasps seem to also enjoy the Milkweed plant, as well as ladybugs. The eggs get consumed. The strong and/or the purposed find their way to survival. I see that the leaves are munched on and I have faith that the caterpillars, one by one as I locate them, will continue to thrive. I may find 2 or 3, sometimes as many as 10...and then suddenly, they are gone.

Where did they go?  

It is their time. They find a quiet place, away from the milkweed and search for the perfect spot in which to grow and change. Like a baby being fed, they are ready to take on solid food so to speak, their purpose, discover their destiny and true beauty after a season of survival and grace. Why stay a baby? There is so much more!  It's in their DNA!  They don't fight it, it is what is to be!

I have found the chrysalis in many places, some totally outside of the butterfly garden.  On a thorny rose stem, under the lip of a pot, attached to a cross beam of a fence, the bright green chrysalis hangs and waits.

This week, something very cool happened. I spotted a chrysalis hanging from another butterfly! Across from the butterfly garden is a pot with some newly planted Plumeria beginning to sprout. Also,  stuck inside this terra cotta pot, two garden stakes, one purple and one traditional colors of the Monarch. This caterpillar crawled across the warm sidewalk, up the pot, into the dirt and up the stake to the wing of something he recognized, a glimpse of His own image to come. Why wouldn't he want to do his transforming under the wings of this great one?

When showing my friend who came to visit, he said, "Wow, that took a lot of effort to get there." It does seem intentional, doesn't it?

Let me ask the effort worth it? To crawl, run, curl up, reach for, embrace yourself in the Wings of our Maker? He is the One who created you in His image and for His purposes. Do you want to just stay a baby, hoping for more milk while battling the wasps of this world who so easily carry us away, the carnivores who consume our time and leave us hopeless, drained of life?

As for me, I choose, very intentionally, to be under the shadow of His wings, for there is where I find grace, purpose, beauty in the transformation and hope. Every inch of getting there and the detours...even the hardest and darkest of places to get through-- are all worth the victory today and into eternity.

Thank you Lord, that I can see Your intention for me, Your direction, Your will. Though rust and moths, disease and disrespect,  rejection and hurt,  insecurities and disappointment want to discourage along the way, I know that Truth stands tall and I have my eyes on You. Help me, help us Lord, everyday to be intentional in our worship and in our lives to reflect all You created us to be and thank You that I can find rest under Your wings, all for Your Glory, Amen

My Savior's Shadow ~ Blake Shelton 

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Completely Joyful Adventure

Philippians 2:1-2 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 

What a way to start the summer break off then to take a long-awaited and planned for many months, road trip with my BFF! We snapped our selfie at my front door and we headed for the airport just the next city over from our homes.

My boarding pass said B, hers was C and we ended up unable to sit together on our 3 hour flight to Texas. I found a seat towards the tail end, my friend Christina, up front. I felt a bit down about that, and hoped the flight might be over quickly and/or my book might keep me from boredom. I did end up with a window seat. A clear flight, I looked out the window a lot and wondered what and where we were, if that was the Salton Sea, if below me might be New Mexico...

I sat next to a couple who quickly introduced themselves, Teri and Randy. They informed me that they were off to Dallas to assist Pastor Greg Laurie and the Harvest Crusade happening that weekend at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Last year, over 85,000 people showed up with more standing and listening in the parking lot. They hoped for the same this year. She pointed out to me more friends on the same mission across the aisle and said many more were scattered in the jet.

Wow Lord, I couldn't sit next to my friend, yet You surround me with Your good servants and conversation that glorifies You. So Cool, So You Lord, Thank You. 

I felt assured, encouraged--in going away on an adventure and excited that God provided for me to go with no lose ends at home.

I felt Christ's love when my seatmates asked me to pray with them before the plane landed. We prayed for the Harvest Crusade and they prayed for myself and Christina to enjoy our trip safely and joyfully.

I knew fellowship, being of One Body in Christ with complete strangers, yet...not really strangers after knowing that they served the same God with passion and compassion for the lost. My joy--complete yet waiting for our adventure, complete because of what blessings the Lord gives to me in friendships. Joy because strangers and best friends can share instantly in that sameness, a unity because of knowing God personally and trusting Him.

We left on a jet plane. I found new friends for a brief 3 hours. Along with my forever friend, (we call each other Soul Sisters), we all are intent on one purpose: To fellowship and share our hearts in love and words and find joy in each other, in serving and being served, and in adventure. The Lord moves us to and fro and we cannot be scenery watchers or keep our heads stuck in a downward position, afraid of people or where He may call us to.  His purposes are not seen in the clouds, but sometimes right in the seat next to us, to pray and fellowship and be reminded that it is never about the destination, but more about the journey.

Lord, Thank You for being a God of providence, provision and unity. Thank You Lord for best friends and new friends. Thank You Father for a beautiful world in which to share Your love and hope in. You are a good God intent on filling us with Your Joy, in all our adventures and even in our misadventures.
Help us Lord to continue to see You in our everyday walk through life and live fueled up and ready to soar to new places You plan for us. May we be packed with faith and trust and ready to unpack Your Goodness. Amen.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Spell "One Another" Please

Acts 2:42 “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teachings and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Breaking news: 14 year-old Karthik Nemmani from Texas, won yesterday’s (May 31st) 2018 National Spelling Bee with the word “koinonia.”

What? I came back into my bedroom to listen to the morning news anchors repeating the word, giggling while admitting they didn’t know the meaning much less the spelling of the word. “Well, I looked it up, it means a spiritual gathering of like-minded people,” said one newswoman.

Some words have tremendous power behind them. We hear that every day. Twitter, a popular social media of 140 characters or less, catapults them out 24-7. We watch and see where the direct hits land and the collateral damage. 

…and one 14-year old boy spells ONE word that can change the world. Would you have known it, recognized it--have you experienced it? It is only one word, yet is speaks volumes. 

Koinonia. K.o.i.n.o.n.i.a. Koinonia.

It’s Greek to me. Well, it is Greek, literally. More than just being like-minded, “koinonia” means united for a purpose, devoted to one another, serving one other, praying for one another, honoring one another, encouraging one another towards love and goodness…did you catch all the “one anothers?”

Koinonia results when a true, pure fellowship, authentic and intimate in words and love, takes place with one another because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for every one of us on that Cross. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself through this word. Koinonia cannot be summed up in 140 characters, but in continuing love and action to those who heed the call to be Christ-like and Christ-minded. To those who do not settle for just a salvation story, but want to break bread and trust together for the right words to reflect His glory, koinonia moves mountains. It instills hope, brings healing and spells out the divine purpose, that together as one Body in Christ, great things in love can be accomplished. In each of us as we encourge Koinonia, we learn and grow in our walk with God...and with ONE ANOTHER. 

Now that you know how to spell koinonia, go and discover it, be a part of it, read about it in the Acts and other books of the New Testament.

In gratefulness, Lord, I know that as a Christ follower, I was never meant to be alone in my beliefs and in my growth, but to fellowship with one another, discuss, study, pray, worship and minister together. Thank you Lord for all the opportunities to do that in Your Body of Christ and in koinonia. I hope to share these same experiences out to a broken world. They say a child shall lead them. Thank you Karthik. I pray you too, will know the fellowship of the saints and that God will use this word and your correct spelling of it to enlighten others to a greater calling. Amen. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Win-Win

II Corinthians 2:14 "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 

I love the game of baseball. 

Yes, sometimes the game can be a bit slow, but it can be equally as exciting. Each individual player has a specific job to execute and for a brief amount of time during each inning throughout the game, we focus on one player as they do their part to move the game forward. Two individuals delivering and attacking the same ball, one pitching and one hitting. One giving and one receiving, and the support ready to respond in equally talented play and athletic ability. It's a game of strategy and signs, fouls and fair play, hitting, running, throwing and a lot of concentration.

We get to know their faces, their stances and body language and nuances, their choice of gum, seeds or chew.

We see their hair grow into long red strands and bushy beards or cut with patterns. Their stats are repeated and we know the line up.

Take me out to a ball game.  I prefer Chavez Ravine. 


I love planning and executing the NephCure Walk. Last Saturday, we completed our ninth year of providing this fundraiser for specific kidney diseases, nephrotic syndrome and FSGS. Bloating and retaining fluids, lethargy and immune system compromise, testing strips and biopsis, steroids and side effects and a lot of discouragement--that defines the line-up of these conditions.

Yes, sometimes this project, this endeavor can be tedious, a bit overwhelming and emotional. But, on the day of the event, all that seems to disappear. Teams arrive and each individual player participates to make the few hours we walk and cheer and gather our forces, a win-win. In our efforts, we are delivering hope, cracking the bats of our hearts to put donations over the fence and many more seasons of play for our kiddos with this disease.

My son, Tim..he came out of the game early. Now, we pinch-hit in his memory.

With each walk, I've gotten to know our teams and the children we walk for, Mateo, McKayla and Aiden, Kennedy, Gabi, and Isaiah and more.

Aiden is getting tall!  beautiful.  Then there is Mateo, an adorable reminder of my son at the same age. They come every year, healthier, feeling stronger because new medicines are helping.

I know the stats of a previous game.  I pray that no mom or dad has to watch and worry as their child continuously strikes out in relapses.

In October, Take me to English Spring Park where I will continue to raise awareness and walk for a cure.

Thank You Lord for giving us gifts of athleticism, for personal fitness and to also entertain--cheering for teams that we love. Thank You Lord, I am so grateful to be a member of Your Team and listen to the ways You give me hope and cheer me on. Because of that amazing grace, You guide me and encourage me to keep up the proactive involvement in developing the Inland Empire NephCure Walk. Every year it grows and my faith in You and in my teammates increases as well.  I am excited our Dodgers are in the World Series. I am blessed to complete and celebrate success in my own yearly campaign to save kidneys and save lives. Life is not easy, but with You God as my Manager, leading me to see things in an eternal perspective, I embrace an attitude that in the end, all becomes a win-win forever. Thank You for allowing me to be a team player, not just a spectator. Keep me Lord in the centerfield of Your will. May I be a statistic that magnifies Your glory no matter what position I play. Amen.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Down But Never Out

Psalm 145:14 "the Lord sustains all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down."

I can hear her correction, her should I say it? "protect me." 

"Sit up straight."  (slouching is bad for the posture). 

"Pick your feet up!" (shuffling or dragging one's feet slows you down and may cause a fall).

And her most famous one..."You need a little lipstick!" ( Maybe that's why I always have one in my pocket to this day).

Moms always have good intentions, even if their constant repeating gets annoying. (I hope my son realizes that soon). 

So today, and also a few weeks back...I shuffled and you guessed it, I tumbled. 

I fell hard both times. The first time, walking from the hospital to the medical office, ironically for an urgent care appointment for myself! 

A bridge straddled a drainage area and garden and it had a narrow metal grate running across. I caught my flip-flop and down I went, hard on my knees and hands on the concrete. I scraped and bruised both knees, one more that the other, the pain lasting the rest of the summer. 

Urgent care now became about two things. Nothing was broken, except my pride. I will gladly admit though, I can be a klutz. 

Today, at school, in front of the Library, yep, it happened again. Down I went as my foot abruptly stopped on a raised tile area of students names and memories. 

"Coleene, and here is where I fell, September, 2017." 

Between classes, I think no one saw me. I less than graciously, lifted myself up, made sure nothing was broken and hobbled back to my classroom, bleeding and disheveled, eventually making my way to Nurse Lila. She directed me to clean my wound, bandage myself up and maybe some paperwork. 

Now I have to document my blunders!  Ugh! 

Ungraceful at times, we fall. Maybe, it is the sin in our lives that trips us up. It is always when we take our eyes off the One who balances us and leads the way. It hurts, stings, bleeds and bruises up. Our achey hearts and spirit make us difficult--we cannot respond to others who are hurting because we are too focused on our own wounds. 

Maybe sometimes we need to just stay on the ground a bit longer, prostrate and needy, allowing  God to pick us up and sustain us.

 Can you picture that? His arms under yours, gentle and guiding as He wipes our brow and hands us a glass of living water, brushes away the gravel stuck to our wounds and then carries us the distance until we can stand strong once again.

His grace becomes my grace. My grace, given, can help steady another and point to the One who is the Lifter of our heads, the Binder of our wounds, our Healer and Strength-giver. 

Mom, thank you for your wisdom in my outward appearance and posture. Lord, thank You for grace that sometimes allows the fall, but is ready and anxious to pick me up and straighten me out.  Each and every time my own self begins to shuffle, slump and trip over obstacles of this world and the adversary's accusations get under my feet, I know a simple prayer of asking for Your wisdom, Your forgiveness and Your grace will keep me walking with discernment and foresight in all that lies ahead of me.  Lastly, I pray my lips will be ready to proclaim Your goodness to me, in the right shade and shine! Amen. 

    Get Back Up ~ Toby Mac 

                                                         You Lift Me Up ~ The Afters 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Walking in Love and Faith

Ephesians 5:2 "...and walk in love, just as Christ loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

"I need my walker."  

I've heard that request quiet a few times in the last 6 weeks. My husband, as some of you know, had his first full knee replacement surgery on June 15th. 

Experiencing a successful surgery, the recovery process even has the professionals a bit baffled. Here is a bit of a timeline...

6/15  Surgery
6/17  Released

In home physical therapy begins. 

7/1  Ted started to feel a lot of pain in his wrist, the opposite side. 
7/2 6:00 a.m. Arrive in emergency, excruciating pain in the wrist area, waiting,  not wanting to go to the ER in the middle of the night.  Using the walker with one hand, it took 45 minutes to get him in the truck because of the pain in his wrist.

We spend almost 12 hours in the E.R. while the doctors examine, take blood, test, poke more, prod, ask questions, consult and then decide. 

Around 6:30 p.m. he's wheeled into surgery again where his wrist, infected inside by something "angry" the doctor would relay, is irrigated and cleaned out, an aggressive treatment to save the knee from being compromised by any infection. 

Now he has a full soft cast on his wrist. 

7/3  Released from hospital. When we arrive at home,  a new "walker" is waiting at our door with a platform for his hand.

7/5  Our regular in-home physical therapist pays a visit and he informs her of a new pain behind his surgical knee. She examines him and finds concern enough to add an ultra-sound to our appointment the next day, a check for clots. 

7/6  I take him back to the hospital to see his regular physician and she sends us to get the ultra-sound. Diagnosis confirmed, 3 blood clots behind the knee. The doctor then orders a cat scan to double check the lungs. Result: a clot in each lung, D.V.T. and P.E. as the acronym goes; ( we know it all too well). He gets a bed on the fourth floor, admitted again, and the protocol for blood clots in sues. 

7/10 Ted gets to come home. Now we have an occupational therapist coming, in home-health professionals coming, his physical therapist still coming because he hasn't been released for out patient yet and blood collectors coming in between fielding phone calls, 
e-mails and pharmacy issues. 

7/25  This last Tuesday, he takes a nice shower (with my help). He probably enjoys it too much, stays in, standing, although his walker is half way in the tub. Finally getting out, I help him maneuver out, the walker always bearing his weight. Only a towel thrown over his backside, he scoots out of the bathroom, stops for a second and complains of dizziness, gets himself to the couch and then passes out. 

I call 911 in a panic, and the first responders arrive quickly. Now alert and cooperating, they take him by ambulance back to the hospital where he is misdiagnosed with pneumonia then correctly diagnosed in the morning. The paramedics were correct, dehydration coupled with the hot shower caused his blood pressure to drop, thus the fainting spell.  

On Monday, 7/31 He finally has his first out patient therapy appointment. By the way, his knee is doing great! The other knee? ...not so much; (the worse one of the two). Is he in a hurry to get that one done? ...not so much. 

"I need my walker." 

I gladly retrieve it for him and open it, allow him to stand and move to where he will rest tonight after another day of recovery, exercising his wrist and knee, while I do all I can to serve him, take care of him, encourage him and listen to him...and sometimes checking myself, capturing my thoughts and giving them over to The Great Healer. 

God has placed a timeline for me as well, although it is one involving my heart issues, my self issues. With each setback, each chore, each need, each time I have to stop what I intend to do or never start at all---to meet his needs, the Lord builds His strength in me as I ask Him to fill me with it. As I have experienced in past heart issues, the prayers of many who surround us in love are felt and doing a mighty work. I have offered my self up to help my husband heal, setting aside a lot of personal projects and a few social events. Those can wait. God's timing and His plans are for Ted to regain his strength and his ability to walk again, to grip again, to return to work. For me, to learn how to serve him in and through this time of need in a summer usually planned for many other activities. We both walk together with the Lord leading the way and we lean into each other in our love and in to Him to carry us through. 

Thank you Lord, for being the wondrous "Walker" I can grasp, hold on to and depend on so I do not fall and stumble over my own selfish desires and worldly needs. Lord, thank you that Your righteousness stands tall above the darkness that wants to trip us up. Help us Lord to desire servant hearts not just towards the ones we love, but for those who need to know Your truth and Your hope. Some of those people are so difficult, so lost, yet they too, need Your care, Your healing power. Thank You Lord for protecting Ted this week and for giving us both strength to continue this journey. In the end, may we look back and proclaim Your glory through it all and know that in our weakness, Your strength becomes evident. 

Walk by Faith 
Jeremy Camp